Sunday, May 23, 2010

Comic Review...

(cover "B" by Casey Coller)

Transformers: Ironhide #1 (of 4)
"Chapter One: The Iron Age"

Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Casey Coller

(covers by Casey Coller and Marcelo Matere)

Summary: On Cybertron a panel lights up. Flashback to four million years ago on Cybertron... The Autobots and Decepticons fight a battle on Cybertron. Prime goes to flank the Decepticons and is hit from behind by Soundwave. Soundwave launches his Recordacons and is about to attack when Ironhide shows up and saves the day. Afterward, Prime takes out Ramjet and orders the Decepticon convoy they've been stalking to surrender--or else. Later, the Autobots hold a party and celebrate. Kup tells Prime privately he has to inspire the others not just lead them. Prime says he's doing his best... they all return to the party where Ironhide notices a strange Autobot. He gets suspicious just in time to see the Transformer pull a side arm and attempt to assassinate Optimus. He gets in the way and takes the blast himself. He awakens then on Cybertron in the present and wonders where everyone else is (the place is desolate and deserted).

Comments: The story was pretty straightforward, but insightful and interesting despite that. This seems to be Mike Costa's strength--to find interesting character moments in an action story that others seem to miss. We get a good sense of both Optimus Prime and Ironhide in the flashback. It was also nice to see Axer in a comic for a change (he was the assassin). Not sure what was with the panel in the prologue--perhaps it remotely activated Ironhide for some reason? Also, why would they repair Ironhide's body (when he was already dead) then ship his corpse to Cybertron? (For that matter, if the Autobots are marooned on Earth, how did they do that?) That strikes me as kind of odd... why not just bury/whatever him on Earth instead? Despite that, I enjoyed the comic overall. The writing and art were both good (something I don't often say about IDW). I do wonder what point this story will have overall--will it actually affect the main story in a significant way or will it be another pointless sideline like the Bumblebee story was? I guess we'll find out...



Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers #5 (of 5)

Writers: Nick Roche and James Roberts
Artist: Nick Roche
(covers by Nick Roche and Trevor Hutchison)

Summary: Overlord rips Guzzle in half. He uses the pieces to smack Kup in the head while Impactor shoots him in the optic with his spear gun. Overlord is barely phased. Elsewhere, Perceptor, Verity and their team opt not to use the deterrence chips--instead letting Pyro sacrifice himself to the Decepticons while the rest of them run away. As they run, Perceptor explains what really happened in the past with Squadron X--the Wreckers did indeed stop them and arrest them. Prowl ordered them remotely to let the Decepticons go due to a new treaty with that world that made it no longer the Autobots problem. Instead of doing as ordered, Impactor went and executed them all--a thing Springer found horrific. Elsewhere, Springer is bested by Overlord but defiantly tells him that the others will have freed the Autobot prisoners by now. Overlord informs him he had his men execute all the prisoners when he learned they'd arrived so no help is coming. Then, Perceptor, Ironfist and Verity show up and attack. Ironfist strafes him with some kind of cannon. Overlord rips Springer's face off. He moves to take out Ironfist but the other has tricked him--having shot him full of deterrence chips. He activates them (thanks to having downloaded Aequitas into his mind) and blows Overlord to bits. Overlord is still slightly functional but Impactor paralyzes what's left so he can be heroic and not a murderer (which is stupid after all Overlord's done) and Overlord can stand trial for his crimes (again, who will do the judging? No one's left!) We learn all are dead--except Springer (he's comatose), Fort Max (same thing). Impactor and Guzzle take off for parts unknown (why?), Ironfist copies Aequitas' logs for Prowl then dies of a "mechanical aneurysm". On Earth, Verity has been narrating the story and types into her laptop how the moral of this story was: life persists.

Comments: Wow! And so the five-part Wreckers comic concludes. Any potential this story had to impress was lost after about the second issue or so... It ended up being a long gore-fest with very little point to it. The writers seemed to want to do a major death story but forgot to make us care about the characters leading up to the finale. All we got for Autobot characterization was Springer and Impactor--the one being an immoral Autobot while the other had worshiped him as a hero until his unforgivable act of murdering a bunch of immoral murderers rather then setting them all free. And then we had Ironfist who didn't feel like he fit in with this elite group of bad-asses. But he ends up being really smart then dying ultimately from a "mechanical aneurysm". I guess that's just as bad as a cyber-stroke or a robo-heart attack... good lord! They're robots! They can't get aneurysms! Do we really have to humanize them this much? What's next? An Autobot peeing on someone--oops! I guess that already happened in the live action movie, didn't it. On the Decepticon side, we had characterization in the form of Overlord, which amounted to "he's an indestructible bad-ass". Okay, thanks. It's immoral to use the deterrence chips to kill all the Decepticon prisoners because it might also kill Impactor--but it's fine to let them gang up on Pyro and tear him apart instead? These Autobots must be really stupid... And in the end, when Impactor should kill Overlord for all the pain and suffering he does, he grows a set of morals and let's him live instead? WTF?! This story also seemed to lack a cohesive theme or point--and "life persists" is not it. A better writer could've turned this into a morality play. In the hands of Furman or Costa this might've been a masterpiece. As it was, it just seemed lazy and ill-conceived with too much emphasis on action and death and not enough on plot and theme. If, for example, Springer had manned up and stood tall on his Autobot morals to the end while Impactor and Overlord insisted on their "death first" approach, we could've had a much better story. If it had become a good versus evil philosophy story I would've loved it, but alas we ended up with this mess instead. I think this is part of the problem of fans pushing their stories into official tales when their stories are not quite up to par with good pro writers like Costa or Furman. IDW apparently doesn't seem to care about the brand beyond whatever they can push out fast enough to make a quick buck on. Otherwise they'd consider stories like this more carefully and actually do some editing to them instead of letting them pass through as-is.

This issue: Pass.
The series as a whole: Pass.

(cover "B" by Casey Coller)

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